On July 23, in a game against the Yankees, Justin Smoak went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. His OPS dropped to .573, and he was subsequently demoted to triple-A Tacoma. Weeks later, Mike Carp injured himself playing defense for the second time this season, and Smoak was recalled. On August 14, in a game against the Rays, Justin Smoak went 1-for-2 with a groundball double, a walk, and a pair of well-hit fly ball outs. One died on the track in left-center field, and one died in front of the track in right-center field. One came against Matt Moore while batting right-handed, and one came against Fernando Rodney while batting left-handed.
While Smoak was in Tacoma, one of his projects was working on developing a new swing. Which, for Smoak, means developing two new swings, on account of being a switch-hitter. Smoak was working with Jeff Pentland to become more quick and compact. In theory, Smoak would have more time to react to pitches, and in theory, he has enough strength that he could still hit for power without getting so extended. That's the theory. We'll accept it for now.
I have prepared some .gifs of Smoak swinging right-handed and left-handed before going down, and Smoak swinging right-handed and left-handed last night. You'd think I might try to analyze them, but swing mechanics are just not really my forte. I could try to fake it, but that would probably be doing everyone a disservice. I will readily admit that I'm not good at this. Which is why I'm asking you, instead, to look at the .gifs and tell me what you see, if you see anything.
This isn't good science, for two reasons. Those reasons:
- We aren't scientists!
- You're already biased by the knowledge that Smoak was trying to make adjustments, and you've already read about the details of those adjustments.
So maybe it's a mistake to even put this up and open it for discussion. But what could be the harm, really? Look at the .gifs as intently as you want to and note any differences you observe. If you can't see any differences, that's just fine - there might not be any. It's possible that Smoak reverted to his old, familiar swings upon re-joining the Mariners. Did Justin Smoak show new swings last night? If so, what changed? Let's see where this goes, and if it goes nowhere, at least we have Felix starting a game in less than an hour from right now. Hooray Felix!
Smoak, RHB, before:
Smoak, RHB, after:
Smoak, LHB, before:
Smoak, LHB, after: